Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Confession 254: Why Wait?

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.  He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul's men began to scatter.  So he said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings." And Saul offered up the burnt offering.  Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived...."What have you done?" asked Samuel...."You have done a foolish thing," Samuel said.
1st Samuel 13:7-11, 13

Waiting is tough.  It's not something that is a part of our culture anymore.  We have instant everything, from rice to news.  When we want something we get it, usually immediately.  In the above passage, Saul and his troops were struggling with the desire for instant gratification.  The Philistines were surrounding them.  Saul wanted to engage and attack.  Yet God said, "Wait."  Saul was initially okay with waiting.  After all, God had previously commanded him to wait seven days before engaging in battle.  But once his time was up, look at what happened.  He couldn't wait.  His troops started to get antsy.  "Does Saul really know what he's doing?" they must have asked.  Saul was the leader of the nation of Israel.  He couldn't have his men doubting his ability to lead.  He couldn't be seen sitting around on his thumbs waiting for some crackpot old man to show up while the Philistines were knocking at the door.  No, Saul couldn't wait. So, Saul acted.  Assuming a role that was not his to take, Saul sacrificed to the Lord in an attempt to instill confidence in his troops and to move forward down a path he was determined to take.  He must have felt pretty good about himself.  After all, he solved a problem.  And yet, note the first words Samuel, God's anointed prophet, had for this mighty action-oriented king.  "You have done a FOOLISH thing!"

Indeed, we often make fools of ourselves when we don't wait upon the Lord.  Our actions are many times steeped in emotion.  We lash out in anger or fear and do damage to relationships that can take months or years to mend.   We put a hole in our bank accounts chasing after that bright shiny "thing" we so want God to want us to have.  We make impulsive decisions about our careers that leave us more stressed and beat up than we were before.  The aftermath of our impulsive actions can be shame, guilt, lack of self-worth, sadness and loss.  I cannot tell you the number of times God has humbled me as I've been rushing down the road from one place to the next.  And each time I think, "I am such an idiot!"

The reality for me is that waiting on God almost always takes a lot longer than I think it should.  About two and a half years ago I asked God if I could become a "for real" writer/women's ministry worker.  You see, I have had a dream of being a professional writer since I was 10 years old.  The timing, however, has never been right.  I've never felt God say, affirmatively, "Yes, take this path now."  As my teaching career has been changing over the past couple of years, I've been thinking more and more about pursuing this dream whole-heartedly.  I'm ready to jump in.  And yet, my heart has not heard that affirmative "YES!" from God.  I know what I want, but I don't know what God wants.  And so, I'm compelled to wait on Him.  Because the less foolish things I do, the better off my family and I will be.

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Confession 259:Living by Faith

I have the great honor today of posting a blog for The Domestc Fringe.  She is awesome!!  Check out her 31 Days of Living by Faith series.  You'll remember how amazing our God is!

Blessins and Peace

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Confession 258: Words

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  
Ephesians 4:29   

"Words are loaded pistols," wrote philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte in his book, What is Literature?.  And in our contemporary, culture, we seem to thrive on using them as such.  Bullying has become a national epidemic.  Countless news reports have shown the tragic emotional and physical effects bullying has had on our nation's youth.  CNN this week covered another story of a young woman who took her own life after being bullied by her peers.  My husband and I have had to talk with our 6 year old son about how to deal with bullies.  Being a little different, he is already a target in Kindergarten.

The worst part of it all is that bullying has become a seemingly acceptable part of our culture.  Oh, we give good lip service about how terrible it is, but take a closer look at our media and you will see that it is a practice more condoned than condemned.  Political adversaries use their words to rip each other apart.  "News" programs splash the sordid tales and scandals of "celebrities" across both pages and screens, villifying or idolizing one star or another.  Women are degraded and objectified in magazines, on television and in music.  Hot topic issues become avenues of polarization rather than opportunities for growth and change.  Our culture thrives on being mean.  It's disgusting, and our kids are paying the price.

As Christians, we have an obligation to change the part we play in this society of verbal abuse.  It is an obligation that many churches have forgotten.  Sometimes, as Christians, we use the Word, and our words,  as weapons instead of  tools for spreading God's message of love and mercy.  The author of the book of James refers to the tongue as "a restless evil, full of deadly poison." (James 3:8b)  Rather, he counsels his readers to tame the tonuge and become "peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17)  

Likewise, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to use their words carefully.  Paul recognized the power of words to harm and so instructed the Ephesians that whatever comes out of their mouths should be for the benefit of others, building them up rather than tearing them down.     So let me ask you two questions today.  And trust me, I am asking them of myself, as well.

1. Are the words which you speak throughout the course of the day building others up, or tearing them down?  Remember that we can easily tear someone down without speaking to them face to face.   

2. Are the messages being sent from your church--from your congregation-- seeking to build others up or to tear them down?   For too long, many of our churches have been harbingers of hate, using words to tear down and to judge rather than to build up and love.   

My words are not always kind.  I do not always use them to build others up.  I succumb to gossip at times, and do get testy and lash out with words at those I love.  And yet, I try to use the wisdom God has given me to tame my tongue.  And for those times when I fail, God reminds me of the love and encouragement I am supposed to be giving.  I have to say, I'm getting pretty good at saying, "I'm sorry."  I hope, as I continue to walk in faith over the years, that I will have less need for it.   

Blessings and Peace, 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Confession 252: On Not Growing Tomatoes

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

"Do you have a vision for yourself?" my health coach asked.  Well, that's the key question, isn't it?  It's hard to go forward with something if you don't have a vision of what you want to achieve.

"My best friend is a pioneer woman," I said.  "They have chickens in their backyard, and 
grow vegetables and buy organic foods.  Her children have never eaten Pop Tarts and she makes homeade granola bars with flaxseed."

"Do you want to make homeade granola bars with flaxseed?" my very astute health coach asked.

"Not really," I replied.  "But, I feel like I should."

We went on from there to talk about how women in our society feel this incredible 
pressure to be everything to everyone.  We need to be supermoms, and superwives, and have super careers.  The resulting stress and pressure from continuously trying to achieve something that no one can possibly achieve leaves us feeling like failures, reaching for food and other coping mechanisms to absorb the pain.

"Have you ever heard Joyce Meyer's tomato story?" my health coach asked.

Apparently, Joyce Meyer wanted to be a superwife/mom too.  She started sewing her children's clothes and making things from scratch.  She grew a huge tomato garden and prayed over it that it would yield a bountiful crop.  The day came for harvesting.  She and her pioneer woman next door neighbor were going to have a harvesting/canning party.  As Joyce went out to her garden to begin the harvesting process, she found that every single one of her beautiful red tomatoes had been blighted by worms.  Quickly, she ran into the house and called her neighbor to pass on the dreadful news.  Her neighbor quickly ran to her own garden to check the precious fruit.  Lo and behold, her tomatoes were bright, red, full and worm free.  She had the perfect crop.  Needless to say, Joyce had a few strong words for God about this crop she had so carefully planted and tended too.  But God had some strong words for Joyce as well.  That day, she clearly heard God say, "I never asked you to plant tomatoes."

"You need to give yourself a break," my health coach said.  "If God's not calling you to make homeade granola bars, it's okay.  You need to figure out what kind of life God is calling you to lead and do that."

In that moment, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders.  For now, the Pop Tarts are okay.  Moreover, I can be okay right where I am.  Right now, I am where God wants me to be.  There's a purpose and a plan.  And, there's a vision.  I know in my heart exactly what I want to do, who I want to be.  I'm not sure yet how to get there, but I don't think I have to have that part figured out just yet.  I need to just be in the here and now. I need to rest and  be assured that God's got the greater purpose and a plan already in motion.  And while I want a door to be thrown wide open right now, I know that I can't do anything until God is ready for it to be done.  Because when I wait on God, big things can happen.  All I know for sure is that I'm not going to be growing any tomatoes!

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, October 12, 2012

Confession 251: Discipline

Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-15

It's ironic that I would be writing a post on discipline since I haven't blogged in almost a month!!  However, it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.  We live in a culture that glorifies excess.  As Americans, we overeat, overspend, overexert, overcommit, overindulge, overopinionate, (yes, I'm creating new words here), name it, we over it!!  Unfortunately, all of this overing tends to wreck havoc on our lives.  We find ourselves depressed, unfulfilled, stressed out, exhausted, broken, lost.

Recently, I found myself settling into a bit of a depression over my weight.  I am ashamed to say that I allowed myself to overindulge on food to the extent that my weight had risen to the number it was when I was 9 months pregnant.  I hated the way I looked, hated the way Ifelt.  It took me at least 20 minutes to get dressed each morning because I was too fat to fit into my clothes.  Something had to give.  Literally, my waist.  So, I have enrolled in a weight loss program.  I've been on the meal plan for a week.  It's been grueling and I've been cranky and irritable and desperate for some nachos.  But when I stepped on the scale today, I was six pounds lighter!!  So, I'm totally going to stay on this straight and narrow path!

I think I understand, more and more, what Jesus was talking about when he talked about following the narrow road that leads to life.  When we discipline our lives, when we set parameters on ouselves rather than engaging in our culture's over the top everything, we live with greater purpose.  When we focus ourselves in on something, it takes on more meaning.  We give it our best effort.  It becomes important to us.  And, moreover, when we engage in self discipline, whether it be to lose weight, save money, spend more time with our family, disengage from the t.v., or to draw closer to God, we find ourselves living a more fulfilling life.  We become achievers, rather than accumulators.

It's not easy, though, to live a disciplined life.  Personally, it goes against almost every fiber of my being.  I like immediate gratification.  I don't like giving things up, especially food.  It takes awhile to get into the groove.  There's a reason God had the Israelites wandering around the desert for 40 years.  They were learning to be disciplined.  It can take a long time!  But look at the promise Jesus gives.....this road of discipline is a road that leads to life.

Please don't think I'm telling  you that you have to stop eating, stop shopping, and stop reading anything but your Bible.  I think God intended for life to be enjoyed!!  I just think that discipline can be good for our souls, and our bodies, and that perhaps the narrow road is the better way to go.

As Robert Frost wrote of the choice between two roads...."And I, I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2